It’s no secret that Ohio has many areas it must improve in order to be a threat in the Mid-American Conference this season. While much of Wednesday night’s loss against Central Michigan came down to struggles on offense and special teams, there is a lot to be said about the Bobcats’ performance on defense.
Initially, Ohio’s defense seemed unsettled and rusty. The Bobcats’ attentiveness seemed just a step behind, giving Daniel Richardson freewill to pick apart their zone coverage.
Ohio’s secondary struggled at times to hold the Chippewas’ receivers within their zones. The Bobcats’ safeties looked lost on several plays including a 50-yard connection from Richardson to Kalil Pimpleton for a touchdown. Misread and overplayed coverage gave Richardson the opportunity to find receivers in short-yardage situations and deep downfield.
Defending the run was another shaky area for Ohio.
Ohio gave up 184 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, looking powerless to any play or run-scheme used by the Chippewas. Central Michigan kept Ohio guessing by utilizing Richardson in read-option plays, while throwing junior Kobe Lewis in both wildcat and single-back formations.
The absence of Kai Ceasar and Alvin Floyd may have had in impact on Ohio’s defense as well.
The Bobcats saw a productive game from both Will Evans and Austin Conrad on the defensive line, but Caesar’s presence may have added much needed pressure on an agile quarterback. Floyd’s presence not only affects the secondary, but as Ohio’s “spark plug,“ the overall morale and energy of the defense could have been lifted.
“(Casar and Floyd) did not make the trip,“ head coach Frank Solich said. “That was tough on our defensive line a little bit, and also Alvin (Floyd) was playing well in the secondary, but you know, it happens to every team.”
Perhaps the most frustrating of Ohio’s defensive woes were the staggering amount of missed tackles. Whether Central Michigan ran a designed run or throw, it seemed to take multiple Ohio defenders to stop it. The Bobcats had no answer for Lewis, missing easy wrap-ups and potential tackles for loss in the backfield.
The Bobcats have a short season, which means there’s less time for mistakes. Luckily for Ohio, its mistakes can be easily corrected.
Though there is much room for improvement, the bobcats have an experienced group of players on the defensive line and a linebacker unit that made a solid contribution in Wednesday night’s game.
“I think we’re a smart football team, but we’re going to have to prove that in games coming up,” Solich said.